Nellie reminisces about her mother's conduct at the picnic:
It was so good to see her talking and laughing, and making light of the hardships of the long winter. I suppose she was the oldest woman at the picnic, though she was not yet fifty; but a new country belongs not to age but to youth, and mother seemed to advise all the younger women, and became a mother to all of them in their family cares.Most of those young women who left their families would never see them again. The women would have had very isolated, laborious lives. It was probably a relief to have some female companionship, and someone who could help with raising a family.